Free Markets, Free People


Obama didn’t make a “gutsy call” but he didn’t cover his rear either

I am on record saying that Joe Biden is full of crap when he tried to sell Obama’s decision to okay the raid that killed bin Laden as “gutsy”.  Biden’s claim is that had the raid failed, his presidency would have been over.

Nonsense.  We’d have simply never heard about it.  There was no risk to Obama or his presidency to okay the raid and tremendous upside (which he continues to try to cash in on) if it succeeded.  Most reasonable people know and understand that.  It is the usual Biden hubris.

But, this new claim which has been floated by Big Peace is also nonsense.  The claim is a memo that authorized the raid also was used to cover the President’s rear if it failed.  Here’s the memo that is being touted as proof:

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.

The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

The decision to shift operational command to McRaven is being characterized as a CYA move by the president who, if the raid failed, would or could throw McRaven under the bus.

Nonsense.

What was done is exactly what should have been done by standard operating procedure for any operation – unless, of course, you want people who have no situational awareness, haven’t been in on the planning and are thousands of miles away, making minute-to-minute operational decisions.  You know LBJ designating targets in North Vietnam or Jimmy Carter trying to run the Iranian operation.

Of course you give operational control to the operational commander for heaven sake.  He’s the guy who has planned, rehearsed and is most familiar with the operation.  He knows the operators, he knows the terrain, he has helped configure the force, he knows the best time to go in.

He is the guy best qualified to have operational control and the shift noted at 10:45 am means at that point it was up to the best qualified man to make the call “go”.

The sort of nonsense that Big Peace is running is, unfortunately, done out of apparent ignorance.  This is not a story.  It has nothing to do with CYA.  It is how operations are done.  When the command authority, who retains the right to make the decision of “go” or “no go”, makes the decision to  proceed they then hand the operation off to the operational commander.

That’s what was done here.  It was the correct thing to do.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am no fan of Obama’s. And I remember when he criticized another campaign for using bin Laden to “score political points”.  But this sort of attack is just nonsense.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Print
  • Google Bookmarks

24 Responses to Obama didn’t make a “gutsy call” but he didn’t cover his rear either

  • I thought precisely the same, McQ.

    • @Ragspierre We can all remember from the history books that FDR was finished after Anzio

      • @Neo_ assuming we even mention Anzio that is.

        • @looker “We’ll always have Paris…” So maybe we should just leave Anzio out of it…

        • @Ragspierre That’s the thing about Paris, since 1871 almost anyone who really really wants it can have it!

  • I agree that someone needs to be in operational control, but I would say they are focusing on two key bits:

    (1) “The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration.”

    Without knowing the extent of the briefing it i shard to know how restrictive that is (if at all). But it does seem to lay the groundwork for a “Nobody told me about that!” defense. Very Kennedy-esque, which would be any good Democrats ideal.

    (2) “The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out.”

    Was it a kill mission, or a ‘capture if possible’ mission? The general consensus seems to be “kill”, so why not have the guts to say so? Or, if it is ‘capture if possible’, say that.

    Maybe it really is SOP to be this murky in describing Presidential directives. Finding parallels from Presidents past would be a real project.

    • @TomMaguire 1) any operation is going to have limiting parameters. Since it was going to happen in a foreign country, I would suggest that broadening the operation would indeed be an additional risk which absolutely should be brought to the command authority for additional consideration. I see nothing sinister about that or unusual about that.

      2)Can’t answer that, don’t have enough info to say. However I’d point to direction (in, get him or not, out) given as to how tight the parameters on the mission were in number (1) and why the memo directed anything outside the risk profile be brought to the command authority.

    • @TomMaguire If you follow the links you will find the source to be a handwritten memo written by Panetta of a phone call he received. It is not a transcript or an official record of the event. It is Panetta’s interpretation of Tom Donilon’s interpretation of the decision made by Obama. The only thing it could possibly lay the groundwork for is a chapter in Panetta’s memoirs.

    • I@TomMaguire Plausible deniability is always built-in

  • I can’t really speak to what this memo means or doesn’t mean, but there’s zero doubt in my mind that had things gone pear-shaped, Obama would’ve found SOMEONE to throw under the bus to save his hide.

  • McQ while I agree with your analysis I think you have missed the essential point, as has Big Peace. Obama’s handlers made it sound like Obama was ‘hands on’ directing the details.

    Had Obama said “I gave the ok order but left it to the Operational Commander to determine the exact time of execution as circumstances warranted” I believe there would be no shots being taken at Obama now, or limited ones.

    In fact, I think the above explains why Obama was called in from golfing: because he didn’t know when the op was actually going to occur. However, his handlers spun it as ‘cool Obama golfing while operation under way.’

    Obama’s ego wouldn’t let him say the things a normal Commander in Chief should have. That, I think, is the story in this.

    • @dfgardner I understand that, but thought that was pure blarney from the beginning. There’s no story here, despite Big Peace’s attempt to make one out of this.

  • I am on record saying that Joe Biden is full of crap….

    It would have been completely accurate to stop there.

  • I am on record saying that Joe Biden is full of crap…

    In deference to succinctness, you could have stopped there.

  • The President always gets blamed for failure by his critics—and it is no difference here. The Obama administration accomplished what Bush failed to do (even though he had a possible opportunity at Tora Bora). This was what he promised in his election campaign.

  • The President always gets blamed for failure by his critics—and it is no difference here. In this period of international technology, there’s no way he could have kept this kind of operational failure secret. The Obama administration accomplished what Bush failed to do (even though he had a possible opportunity at Tora Bora). This was what he promised in his election campaign, and I think he deserves credit—a thing that conservatives fail to afford him.

    • @tadcf “…there’s no way he could have kept this kind of operational failure secret.”
      ——————————————————————————————————–

      Support that stupid assertion, please. BTW, I have always given Bad Luck Barry credit for doing what politics in this instance MANDATED he do. (World’s most tiny “who-hoo”)

    • @tadcf “This was what he promised in his election campaign, ” He promised? He promised what? Think about that. Promising to ‘get Bin Laden’ during his campaign….what does that even mean? How can a Senator from Chicago, with no access to any control of the military, promise to ‘get Bin Laden’? So it’s a meaningless ‘promise’. It lends credence to the idea that had McCain been elected, and been presented with Bin Laden’s location, would have, what? Passed on the chance? Please.
      ====================================================================
      There are a lot of things he could promise that on becoming President he could deliver on, (like, uh closing Gitmo, doh!) promising to ‘get Bin Laden’ was just bullshit bluster unless you expected after inauguration he was going to don his Obama Super Suit and, after saving a cat from a tree on Pennsylvania Ave, would hurl himself across the face of the planet and use his super hearing and x-ray vision to detect Bin Laden’s location and ‘get him’. What resource was he going to command that Bush didn’t have, I mean, apart from his coolness and his steely eyed gaze? He couldn’t possibly KNOW he was going to be able to deliver on that promise, and certainly couldn’t make it an agenda item to be accomplished BEFORE his first term was complete. So the ‘promise’ was, like most of his pronouncements, bullshit. Interesting you take that as a promise he delivered on. You interested in a bridge?

    • @tadcf Credit where it was due, he ordered it done, it was accomplished. So, who infected Iran’s Seimens systems? Who, if anyone, blew up their missile base? Who’s been killing their scientists? One would think with the international technology you’re talking about, we’d KNOW, beyond a doubt, yet….yeah, not so much. A clandestine mission in Pakistan gone wrong? what makes you think that might have even conceivably replaced Donald Trump’s latest foolishness on page 1 that day?

    • @tadcf Typical letftist idiocy. bush, the violent, thugish war-monger who sought to use violence whenever possible “failed” (refused) to do so in this one instance. Obama, on the other hand, the saintly proponent of peace and diplomacy, could barely wait to KILL Bin Laden.

      “even though he had a possible opportunity at Tora Bora”———–Evidently that alledged Marine thingy didn’t involve any acquisition of military knowledge.

      • @timactual Heh, heh, hehhhh…

      • @timactual “Marine thingy didn’t involve any acquisition of military knowledge.” surely they at least taught him the difference between his rifle and his gun.

  • Apparently the SEALS are also thinking his endzone dancing and ball spiking have moved beyond the bounds of good taste
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2137636/SEALs-slam-Obama-using-ammunition-bid-credit-bin-Laden-killing-election-campaign.html